Abuse case lawyer seeks to question woman's credibility

Officer's attorney wants to use complaints wife filed

`Perjurious charging documents'

Howard County

August 09, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

An attorney defending a Howard County police corporal accused in two domestic assaults wants to use charges his estranged wife filed against previous partners - domestic complaints that were later dropped - to attack her credibility during the officer's trial next month.

Clarke F. Ahlers, who represents Cpl. Michael K. Williams in the cases - one involving a gun - asked Howard Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney yesterday to allow him to question Elizabeth M. Williams about what he alleged were "perjurious charging documents" that he said she has filed against ex-boyfriends.

But a Carroll County prosecutor, who is specially assigned to the case, said she would contest Ahlers' request and has lined up a domestic violence expert to detail the psychology of domestic abuse if the old cases are addressed at trial.

Sweeney did not hear arguments on the issue yesterday. A second motions hearing is scheduled Aug. 23.

But Ahlers' motion set the stage for what is expected to be a contentious trial.

Elizabeth Williams said yesterday that she knows that her testimony at trial, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 16, could be difficult. But she said she has no plans to back down.

"He needs to understand that the stuff that he has done, you just can't get away with, even knowing that he is a police officer," she said.

Since the first allegations were filed nearly a year ago, the Williams cases have sparked heated exchanges and allegations of prosecutorial agendas and police bias.

Michael Williams, 41, is accused of two separate assaults on his estranged wife last year - one Aug. 26 and the other Oct. 20.

In the first case, Elizabeth Williams, 33, alleges that her husband bit her and "slammed" her on a dining room table in the couple's Columbia apartment. In the second case, she accuses him of pointing his gun at her, telling her to drop the first set of charges and threatening to kill her, according to charging documents.

Both sets of charges were filed by Elizabeth Williams, not police investigators. She said yesterday that she felt that Howard investigators were treating Michael Williams "like the victim and not me."

Through Ahlers, Michael Williams has said he "denies any criminal action" in either case and contends any physical contact in the first case was "self-defense." Howard police Lt. William J. Pollack testified during the motions hearing that Michael Williams told him that he bit his wife after she bit him.

"I was left with the impression that, yes, there was an altercation, but it was a self-defense issue" for Michael Williams, Pollack testified.

Cpl. Williams was stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty after the first allegation.

In November, he filed two sets of charges against his wife - an assault case stemming from the Aug. 26 fight, and a theft and malicious destruction case also dating to Oct. 20.

Carroll prosecutors later decided not to prosecute either case against Elizabeth Williams, saying the assault charge was "unfounded and retaliatory" and the theft case lacked "sufficient evidence."

Michael and Elizabeth Williams have since filed for divorce in separate actions.

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